How To Prime Black Berkey Water Filter Elements The Easy Way

Prime a Berkey filter element using your faucet.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. How to prime a berkey.

When you purchase a replacement set of black berkey water filters, or a new berkey water filter system, this is the quick way to get the water flowing through the filter media.

By the way, you don’t need to prime a berkey water filter. It WILL flow and work just fine. The only difference is that it will take longer to get the water flow going at a good rate.

I took some pictures to show you how to prime a berkey filter element. Keep reading…

Step by Step Instructions

First, if your water faucet allows it, remove the aerator. That’s the part at the end where the water comes out. Just unscrew it. Not all water faucets have this convenience. Yours may vary.

Next, with the rubber gasket inserted into/onto the black berkey stem, hold the filter and press the filter stem up and into the water faucet. What you are going to do is gently force water pressure into and through the black berkey filter media.

If you don’t hold it tight enough, when you turn on the cold water (do it slowly), you’re going to get wet (pressure builds up in there). Ask me how I know…

It helps with two people because three hands works best. One person holding the berkey filter up against the water faucet with one hand (the other hand holding the faucet itself so you can apply some pressure to hold against it. The other person will slowly turn on the cold water spigot handle.

You will hear the water running and filling into the black berkey as it primes. Then, after a bit, say about 20 seconds (depending on water pressure) you’ll see water starting to bubble it’s way out the outside of the filter.

The bubbles (water) will work its way down the filter to the bottom. Then you’re done.

Shut off water before releasing the filter against the water faucet (otherwise you’ll get wet!).

Pictures How-to Prime Berkey Filter Media

TIP: You see the black rubber washer/gasket in-between the top of the filter and the faucet? That’s the one that stays on the filter stem for installation into the upper reservoir.

However, when you order a replacement set of filters, they include a additional single (light tan) rubber washer which is softer. Apparently the intent is to use that one on the stem for priming each of the filters (easier/softer – better temporary seal against the faucet). I forgot to use that one for the photo. Just remember to put the black gasket back on when you’re done.

Firmly hold the berkey filter element to faucet for priming.

This picture shows the beading water bubbles as the filter gets primed. It has almost worked its way down to the bottom of the black berkey filter element in this photo.

priming a black berkey filter element

That’s it! All done.

By the way, if and when you need replacements, I highly recommend you purchase them through Jeff (the Berkey Guy) who has been in our industry for more than a decade. Thanks.

Visit their site: USA Berkey Filters

( more about The Berkey Guy )


  1. Ok, here is a stupid question..
    By doing this does this not inject the House Water on the inside of the filter?
    The “clean” side of the Filter?
    Possible contaminating the Inside of the filter?
    Ok Ok three questions.
    PS; not trying to be “myself” but just asking

    1. Answer: “House Water” is clean. And it’s chlorinated. If you have well water, well, it better be safe and clean (otherwise you’ve got a problem) ;)

      Lastly, priming is not necessary. Just a convenience.

      1. Ken;
        See I knew that, just wanted to clarify that for the others.
        I will agree 1000%, the water is a HECK of a lot better.

        BTW just had a chat with Jeff over on USA Berkey Filters
        They have a sale going on for the Black Filters, $99.oo (and other stuff) with free overnight shipping and ZERO Tax. not a bad price at all.

        1. Lauren;
          Re; USA Berkey Filters
          Do a quick chat when on their site, he’ll give you the link to the “sales” page
          Quite helpful

      2. If your well water that has a lot of junk in it, you could use 1 gal jug of store bought distilled water right? Instead of the well water.

        1. Instead I just wouldn’t bother priming. It’s not necessary. The only difference is that it will take awhile to saturate the elements. You might have to wait for hours or more (overnight?) to get some amount of drinking water into the lower reservoir.

        2. White Cracker
          Distilled water has no minerals in it, that is why it is recommended for irons. Not to damage the insides when steaming or ironing clothing/material.

  2. My first time I washed my face at the same time.
    Did not know filters could be used without priming. I have 3 sets put back and primed them 1st, let dry 2 weeks, wrapped and put away. Nice to know it is not absolutely necessary.

    1. Priming is generally to saturate them immediately before use. Drying would be counterproductive. They may have developed a biofilm left sitting wet for a long time… I would ask Berkey how to proceed from here

      1. I have used a pre primed pair and they did the job. Does not hurt to ask though. The reason I did this was because you are not to use contaminated water. Defeats the purpose.

  3. Finally did our filters yesterday for the first time. Yes, I know we have had our unit for a while but I do not have the luxury of time. Some days are better than others.

    The coffee does taste better. The cats and dog are trying to figure out what I did to their water.

    1. Yes, there’s nothing like the clean taste of water from a Black Berkey Filter!

      1. Ken
        I know, but the animals are so funny they have been drinking the well water with all the minerals in it for so long. That it must be a shock to their taste buds.🤩😂

  4. And do not forget to add different kinds of sea salts to your stocks to replace the minerals our bodies need that the filters remove. Very important. I try to keep at least three different kinds around, just to make sure we get what we need. And with international trade coming to a halt with this coronavirus, you might want to get some sooner rather than later. Just saying……

      1. One choice is LyteShow for electrolyte replacement. It is made primarily from sea water and is added to drinking water. Been using it for years and it works well!

        Amazon has it if you can’t find it locally.

        [Ken adds: (here’s the link) ]

      2. Km in NC, sea salt contains different minerals from different parts of the world. These contain minerals our bodies need to work at the cellular level. Some recommendations are Himalayan pink, Mediterranean Sea salt, and Fleur de Sel. Do not confuse them with ‘flavored’ salts. Best price on Himalayan and Mediterranean Sea salt I’ve found is Costco. Williams Sonoma also sells a Hawaiian Red Sea salt, but I haven’t tried that yet. They also carry many flavored salts, so watch what you buy. Hope that helps.

  5. I have purchased a number of items from Jeff, The Berkey Guy. He was great to work with and the items arrived quickly and in perfect shape.

  6. Love my Berkey ! We have been using one for years. Ours is a two and a half gallon capacity model. We use our filtered water for every thing.We have lots of stored tap water and will run it through the Berkey when we need it. Recommend using fluoride filters as well which go under the ceramic filters on top.

    P.S. wife and I have started to implement our self isolation plan. I have to fill all my gas cans for for generator, requiring one last trip before we go into total hunker down mode. good luck everyone.

  7. Cannot prime using the absurd method recommended by Berkey. I have a modern elevated kitchen faucet (like millions of others) so not sure if that is why. The instructions that come with the travel Berkey are awful and I have no problem at all assembling huge Ikea items with their instructions. Thanks for stating that priming not mandatory. Also there are videos online that show people scrubbing their new filters… huh ? Should I be doing THAT too?
    I am on W. Coast Canada and I ended up paying $389 (with taxes) for the travel size. We are so very ripped off on consumer items, as well as housing, in Canada 😡 and just worse now that the virus is being used as an excuse for justification. I was not impressed with the sad little plastic spigot that is included as I felt for that pricing, the stainless should be standard.
    Anyway, thanks for the advice, and I am now finished whining. Cheers..

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